The Chattering Classes Transformed to Tweeting Tribes

With this post, continues its regular column in which it reviews, explicates and excerpts books that we think will resonate with people in the business of publishing and media. 


The Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer  (McGraw-Hill) is coming out on August 3rd, and in the year since the first edition was published, much has changed.  More people and businesses are tweeting; more ancillary tools have been developed to aid tweeters in finding followers, people to follow, and ways to get your message out; and Twitter has become a competitive sport for huge swathes of the global population – 500 million worldwide, with at least 140 million of those in the US.

Schaefer got on the Twitter bandwagon early, and as a professional marketer, has found ways to capitalize on that:  He has a respectable 43,000 followers, he has written two books about social media (the other is Return on Influence, which is about Klout and the importance of quantifying how influential a person’s social media presence is), and he claims he has met friends, business prospects and new colleagues through his interactions with followers and fellow tweeters.  He believes that  at its heart, Twitter is a business networking tool and this book is both a exhortation (tweet till you drop) and how-to.  While there’s not an enormous amount of material that an aspiring tweeter couldn’t get by nosing around the  site, and by googling for help (though Schaefer would say that asking fellow tweeters for help is the most effective way), there is enough to make this book useful.  Schaefer’s argument is that this particular social medium is focused on “Authentic Helpfulness,” and that’s what makes a Twitter user come back for more, so he’s practicing what he preaches here.

Beginning with the basics – what to tweet, what certain terms mean (eg. #FF or Locking – though Twitter itself has a good glossary), who to follow, and how to build up a following – Schaefer takes the reader through the benefits of the medium, as well as some of the (seemingly few) pitfalls.  He also suggests lots of tools that help a user find tweeters in categories and geographic locations that are of interest (eg. LocalChirps, TwitterGrader), how to reach those people with germane information and then, how to measure relative success in measuring and improving the user’s social media metrics.

What is most useful to business book readers is 18 Ideas to Toast Your Competition (it was only 16 in the table of contents, so obviously this is a work in progress) – which has some useful methods to promote, products, services and companies in ways that are not blatant advertisements.  Google, for instance, now picks up tweets, pushing a business’s profile up to the top of the page.

What a tweeter will most appreciate about this book, perhaps, is Schaefer’s recognition that Twitter is a potentially huge time sucker.  So he gives the user ways to both cut back on extraneous chatter (create lists; use tools like TweetDeck, where you can use filters to pinpoint subjects), and to focus on relevant chat, googling categories listed in “twitter chat schedule” that might be of interest – as well as maximizing those tweets by connecting LinkedIn and Facebook to the Twitter account.  At the end  of the 24/7 day, though, Twitter – and this book – is for the dedicated social media wannabe. . . you know who you are.